Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

3 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, when “The Amazing Spider-Man” came out, I loved it. I gave it my highest rating of 4 stars out of 4……I think I overpraised it.

But there’s still much for me to enjoy in the film, so I’ll talk about it here.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” was billed as “The Untold Story.” It was advertised as a darker, grittier cinematic version of Spider-Man, after the lightheartedness of Sam Raimi’s take on the web-slinging Marvel hero.

It turned out to be another origin story, with Peter Parker getting bitten by the radioactive spider, gaining unbelievable abilities, losing his uncle, donning a suit to fight crime, coming across a supervillain to take down, and learning “with great power comes great responsibility”……I didn’t mind. It was done with a different style, like an indie dramedy turned blockbuster, which makes sense considering director Marc Webb’s indie/music-video background. And I was game.

Andrew Garfield is an extremely likable Spider-Man. He’s a pretty good Peter Parker too, like a mumbling, awkward skater-punk…but there’s no way you can make me believe he’s in high school. You could’ve put the character in college and it would’ve been fine. This is just distracting.

The same goes for Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. High school, my ass. But she’s super likable (if there’s an Emma Stone role that isn’t likable, then it’s not worth talking about), and on top of that, she’s wicked smart–not only because she knows how to make an antidote for a super-complex body-changing formula (…I don’t know HOW she knows how to do it, but YOU can’t do it) but also because she picks up on things faster than Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane ever did in three Spider-Man movies. (Thank God!)

What else do I like about the movie? I like watching Peter figure out his powers; I love the chemistry between Peter and Gwen; Martin Sheen is terrific as Uncle Ben; I like that the jock bully Flash is able to lay off Peter after Uncle Ben gets killed; Denis Leary is great as the police captain (and Gwen’s father) who sees Spider-Man as a vigilante threat; I like the scene of Spider-Man making fun of a car thief, showing he’s more of an anti-hero the first time around; I like the rescue scene at the bridge where Peter has to use psychology as well as strength to help a kid in danger; Stan Lee’s gratuitous cameo is awesome; and I like Rhys Ifans as The Lizard…for the first half of the movie.

OK, here we go…what DON’T I like about the movie? I’ve tried to convince myself that The Lizard is a complex villain, but I can’t deny it anymore–his plan makes no sense. How did he go from using his experiment to grow his amputated arm back and getting back at the scientist who threatened to take it all away from him…to using it to turn all of New York City into lizard hybrids? I just can’t wrap my head around it anymore, and I’m usually good at finding b.s. reasons for things in movies I otherwise love.

Sometimes, the fast pace benefits the film, such as when Peter tries getting used to his powers–it lets you feel the anxiety of what he’s going through. Other times, it feels way too rushed to satisfy–for example, how is this kid who’s supposedly poor able to create the web shooters? It made more sense in the other movies when the webs were organic. He’s able to afford to create a suit that looks like a basketball AND super-advanced web shooters? It’s just glanced over; I don’t like that. I also don’t like that the search for Uncle Ben’s killer is disposed of pretty quickly, like Peter forgot all about why he became Spider-Man to begin with.

Oh, and there’s also the prologue flashback with Peter’s parents…I was positive this would be explained in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″……OK, here’s a brief mini-review of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”: When I first saw it, I knew it had problems but I thought it was solid nonetheless…then I saw it again and the problems just became too much for me. I think I’d rather watch “Spider-Man 3” again than watch “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” again.

And I’ll still watch “The Amazing Spider-Man” too again anytime, despite its own problems.

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